NEPALGUNJ, Oct 26: Safe abortion directives require drug stores to sell abortion pills only on the prescription of a doctor. However, Population Services International (PSI), an INGO, has been found promoting the use of such pills where doctors are scarce, through orientation trainings for medical store operators.
In the training, participants are taught the method of use, effects and risks of abortion pills. Though the operators of the trainings instruct the participants to provide the medicine only on the basis of a doctor's prescription, owners of pharmaceutical stores believe that the motive for providing orientation to drug store operators in remote villages is to promote the use of the abortion pill.
“On the one hand, trainers promote selling of the pills in the villages, and on the other they also ask to seek a doctor's prescription,” one drug store owner said adding, “Where can we find a doctor in the villages?” “We have been selling the pills on the basis of the information received at the orientations,” he admitted.
PSI has been conducting trainings in the safe use of abortion pills since the last four years in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs' Association, according to Kabiraj Kandel, treasurer of the association. "Even operators of drug stores in far flung areas come to attend the training," he said.
As many as 1,000 medical stores are running legally in Bheri zone alone, according to the association. It is estimated that some 500 others are operating without registration.
Though drug stores are aware that selling abortion pills without a doctor's prescription is illegal, their self- confidence in carrying out such sales has been boosted by the PSI orientations, it is stated.
One can well believe that pharmacies in the city areas might have followed the doctor's prescription rule, said Dr Dambar Khadka, medical superintendent at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital. “But how can we believe that pharmacies in the rural areas sold the medicine only on the basis of prescriptions?” he asked. Most of the patients who come to hospital due to complications from incomplete abortions are from the rural areas, he added.
Nabaraj Joshi, advisor to the regional office of PSI at Nepalgunj, said that the organization is not directly involved in the orientation programs. It provides the trainings through the association, he said. “Our objective is to control misuse of the pills and reduce the risks,” he added. “We advise drug store owners not to sell the medicine without the prescription of a doctor,” Joshi claimed.